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Ritchie’s Cuomo praise doesn’t bother some Republicans

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OGDENSBURG — Behind her was a sign that read “St. Lawrence County Republican Party.” In front of her was a room full of GOP figures from around the region.

And yet when state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie — herself a Republican — spoke about change and leadership in Albany at a campaign office opening at the Seaway Shopping Center on Saturday, she talked about a Democrat.

“We’ve been able to rein in spending; we’ve been able to work together under Governor (Andrew M.) Cuomo’s leadership,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “And that’s what needs to go on in Washington.”

It wasn’t the first time Mrs. Ritchie has praised Mr. Cuomo, but the comments were unique because they were made in what could have been a crowd unfriendly to cross-party praise. But her words raised no hackles, elicited no gasps and probably won’t cost Mrs. Ritchie any support among top GOP officials.

It’s happening in races all around New York: Republicans running for re-election to the state Senate are highlighting their work with Mr. Cuomo. The sides disagreed on some issues, such as redistricting reform and, in principle, raising the minimum wage. But the state Senate also passed a property tax cap and changes to the state’s pension system, and the chamber’s majority leader allowed the legalization of gay marriage to come up for a vote.

It’s easy to see why Republicans like Mrs. Ritchie are playing up the connection: Mr. Cuomo enjoys high approval ratings. And voters typically tell pollsters they want their representatives to work together, regardless of party. Mrs. Ritchie and her state Senate candidates say they’re doing just that.

But what do other Republicans think of the cross-aisle praise? According to one leading north country GOP figure, it doesn’t bother them.

Matthew A. Doheny, who will share Mrs. Ritchie’s campaign office in Ogdensburg, said he would do the same on the federal level if he wins his congressional race against Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

“Am I supporting and endorsing Mitt Romney? You betcha,” Mr. Doheny said, referring to President Barack Obama’s Republican opponent on Nov. 6. “But if the current president becomes president of the United States (again), I will work in a very cooperative manner with President Obama to make sure we maximize economic opportunities here in the north country. If I had the same playbook as Patty, would I run the same plays? Yeah.”

It’s possible Mr. Cuomo will cross party lines and endorse a Republican such as Mrs. Ritchie, though his office would give no indication the day after Labor Day. In July, Mr. Cuomo said he would consider endorsing Republicans and would make his decisions on a “case-by-case” basis.

Republicans are in the majority in the state Senate. They hold a 34-28 edge, and Democrats are at a major cash disadvantage, so the chances of them taking back the chamber are slim.

A victory by Amy M. Tresidder would help the Democrats pull it off. Mrs. Tresidder, an Oswego County legislator, is facing Mrs. Ritchie on Nov. 6. Mrs. Tresidder faces many of the same challenges as other Democrats in the state: Mrs. Ritchie is far outpacing her fundraising and she acknowledges she is an underdog.

Will she get any help from New York’s top elected official in her party? Or will he endorse a Republican?

“I don’t know,” said Mrs. Tresidder, who said in 2010, she was his Oswego County campaign coordinator. “I think that’ll be very interesting to see. I’d be surprised if he endorsed Republicans, but in politics, anything can happen.”

Like Mrs. Ritchie, Mrs. Tresidder thinks Mr. Cuomo is doing a great job. She’s just not sure about the Senate Republicans.

“I think it’s the governor that deserves the credit,” she said. “I really do.”

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